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The end of impure water? 24 Apr, 2008

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, is working on the Slingshot – a device which purifies water from any liquid source.

The Slingshort almost sounds too good to be true: a $1500 vapor compression distiller that produces up to 1000 liters of potable water per day from any liquid source – from ocean water to sewage.

There are other interesting devices for water purification that are proven to work. For example solar water distillers, where trapped solar energy both destroys pathogens and evaporates pure water which is collected in a trough. Solar water distillers are available from SolAqua – for example the $499 Rainmaker™ 550 Solar Distiller.

Water, just like oil, is not an infinitely available resource. Clean water is a basic requirement for human survival.

As Dean said in a recent video interview;

50% of all human disease on this planet today is a result of water-born pathogens

Dean is also working on a $3700 power generator, based on a Stirling engine, which will produce around 1 kW — enough to light up a small village.

So, will the Slingshot work? Time will tell. But we surely hope Dean succeeds in his endeavours!

Learn more in this article at redferret.net, at dvice.com or at wired.com.

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The transformative power of the cellphone 17 Apr, 2008

Nokia’s own “human-behavior researcher” Jan Chipcase has found undisputable evidence that supports the mobile phone’s potential ability to transform lives and enable positive change.

For the last seven years, he has been working in the field from São Paulo to Mumbai – documenting the lives of mobile phone users.

New York times recently summarized the conclusions of Jan’s work in the article “Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty?“:

Over several years, his research team has spoken to rickshaw drivers, shopkeepers, day laborers and farmers, and all of them say more or less the same thing: their income gets a big boost when they have access to a cellphone.

Over 2 billion people in the world are still unconnected.

Imagine how their lives can, and will, change once they’re connected.

Let the sun charge your phone

$100 gives you the ability to charge your phone wherever there’s sun, with a portable charger that fits in to your back pocket.

Yesterday, we wrote about Suntrica’s portable solar charger, the SolarBadge™.

Better Energy Systems offers a similar charger: the $100 Solio™.

Both products offer similar specifications, and are built on the same idea: a small, portable solar charger with a built-in battery that can store the accumulated energy for later use.

The big difference is industrial design. Solio™ is shaped like a hand-held fan, and Suntrica’s SolarBadge™ has a square, flexible, wearable design.

Prices are not yet set for the SolarBadge, and no delivery date is given on their site. We’re looking forward to taking a closer look at it when it’s available!

Solar powered chargers 16 Apr, 2008

With WorldGSM™ and a solar powered phone charger, who needs grid power to make a phone call?

Check out Suntrica’s website and see what a cool little charger they have designed. It’s called the SolarBadge – a portable, solar powered charger with a built-in rechargeable battery that stores energy up to five years.

A promising product, we think. What do you think? Have your say »

The human chimney 14 Apr, 2008

China emits 1000 tonnes of CO2 every 9.2 seconds. Russia takes 22 seconds to emit the same amount. And the US is leading with 1000 tonnes every 5.4 seconds.

Every minute, these three countries combined emit approximately 20,360 tonnes of carbon dioxide. 20,360,000 kilograms. Which is the same weight as 290 fully loaded Boeing 737 jetplanes, 34,000 Tata Nano’s, or 254,300 average Finnish men. Every 60 seconds.

All this is calculated from a the carbon dioxide emissions simulation at breathingearth.net.

It’s not until we see visualisations of emission and consumption that we truly understand the scale of human impact on our planet. We’ve written about this before in posts like “Shocking images of unsustainability ” and “The world in numbers “.

Seems like the time is right for increased adoption of clean technology, don’t you think?

A big dip in ARPU 11 Apr, 2008

According to the latest figure from TRAI, average airtime and SMSs sent per subscriber in India have noticeably decreased.

Indian service providers say that the lowered ARPU (Average Revenue per User) is caused by two main factors: extending networks into rural India, and the downward tariff spiral.

ARPU in rural areas is lower, as rural users tend to call and send SMSs less often.

Both pre-paid and post-paid plans are getting cheaper as India’s mobile market matures, and as competition gets fiercer.

So the big question is: how long can the exponential growth of India’s mobile market offset the lower ARPU trend?

Learn more: “Minutes of cellular usage & SMS per user hit new low

Sweet-tooth bacteria = the future of biofuel? 9 Apr, 2008

Biologist at Amyris Biotechnologies are using E. coli bacteria to turn sugar into carbon-neutral gasoline.

By adding enzyme genes to the bacteria, carbon-absorbing crops like sugarcane can be turned into hydrocarbons.

As Amanda Schaffer says in the article “Breeding the Oil Bug” at popsci.com:

Amyris is [...] betting that, with the help of bacteria, the long-term answer to our gasoline woes will actually be… gasoline.

Others, like scientists at Argonne National Laboratory, believe that raw algae used to make biocrude is the best way forward. Biocrude is touted to be “the renewable equivalent of petroleum”. It can be processed at existing oil refineries to make anything from gasoline to chemical feedstocks for plastics.

But our stance remains. The answer to our climate and energy crisis is not to make new things that can be burned in combustion engines. We have to find entirely new approaches by using renewable and natural energy sources like water, wind and sun.

And our belief is that electric cars are the way of the future. Recommended watching: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Learn more about how gasoline is made from sugar: “Breeding the Oil Bug” (popsci.com)

Learn more about algae that makes biocrude: “Algae-Based Fuels Set to Bloom” (technologyreview.com)